Originally released by Williams in 1982 Sinistar is a twitch based shooter up game. Though it was released almost in conjunction with the video game crash of 1983, which limited the success of the arcade game, it has since then developed a cult following with a very dedicated fan base. Despite this Sinistar has rarely been ported to other consoles or the PC, though there are some "unofficial" prototypes of the game for varoius consoles floating around the world of rare video game collections. After Midway bought the license for Sinistar and most of Williams's back catalog they have released it as part of the Midway Treasures franchise twice, though Sinistar was packaged in a Williams released compilation pack for fourth generation consoles titled Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits. It was released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 as part of the Midway Arcade Origins compilation.
The ship itself stays in the center of the screen with the background scrolling around the screen. Players must always be on their feet when playing Sinistar as it is a very difficult game to play. Every single enemy spacecraft is faster than yours which means that you cannot outrun your enemies. To compensate this the designers made your spacecraft more maneuverable than all of your enemies, including Sinistar.
At the top of the screen there is a zoomed-out view of the “zone” that functions as a mini-map for the players and allows them to plan their next move. The mini-map also will locate Planetoids, Workers, Warriors and the Sinistar. In the upper left of the screen the score counter will grow as the player progresses through the game. Also the screen will inform the player when their next “bonus” will occur. Below that is the lives counter which will list how many lives the player has left.
In order for the player to defeat Sinistar they must collect Sini-bombs. In order for the player to have Sini-bombs they must mine for crystals. To mine crystals, you must shoot the various Planetoids (the asteroid like objects) in the game world. Players must try to collect as many crystals as they can as these are automatically converted to Sini-bombs, and Sini-bombs are the only weapon capable of destroying Sinistar. Each shot releases a certain amount of energy from the Planetoids. The amount of crystals a player can get out of a Planetoids depends on the size of the Planetoids and their luck as the amount of crystals released from a Planetoids is randomly selected. Once the player has shot up a Planetoid enough it will start to emit crystals and will continue emitting crystals as long as the player continues to meet and not exceed or fall below the threshold for the Planetoid. The number of crystals that can be mined from a single Planetoids is in theory unlimited, but if the player shoots at the Planetoids above its threshold it will explode and release a small number of token crystals.
Not only will players have to strategically shoot their shots, but they must also contend with their first enemy: Workers. Workers will fly up to where the player is and will try to steal the crystals that are being released from a Planetoid. To prevent this, the player can either destroy Workers for 150 points each or just push them away as touching Workers will not cause you to explode and die like most arcade games. In the event that a Worker does steal your crystals; shooting the Worker will not only reward you with 150 points, but also release all stolen crystals. The player should be careful in letting Workers get away with their crystal as these crystal go onto constructing the Sinistar.
The next enemy that players will have to deal with are the Warriors. The player's ship, just like it can with the Workers, can also bounce harmlessly off Warriors. However what makes Warriors a threat is that they can shoot at the player with extreme accuracy. They will fire more rapidly and with increased accuracy as the game progresses and as the player goes from one zone to the next. As such it is imperative that the player shoot them as soon as possible before they appear on the screen in swarms. When Warriors do spawn they will not shoot at the player for a few second, so this is the best time to deal with Warriors. Destroying Warriors will reward the player with 500 points so they are the best enemy to target if a player wishes to maximize their score.
The next and final enemy the player will have to fight is the boss of the game, and that boss is Sinistar. Sinistar is built one piece at a time by the Workers, and the player always has the option to slow this process down by targeting Workers. However the confrontation with Sinistar is inevitable and necessary for the player to progress in the game so this is not an effective technique. Each time a piece is added to it, the player will hear a clanking sound warning the player that their fight with Sinistar is one step closer. Sinistar will be completed once 20 pieces have been assembled by Workers and will taunt the player by saying "Beware, I Live!" Once Sinistar has taunted the player for the first time the window of opportunity to stock up on Sini-bombs will conclude and the player will have to fight Sinistar. Once Sinstar speaks for a second time, he will actively seek and attack the player and will attempt to destroy the player by colliding with and eating their ship. Sinistar can fly far faster than the player's ship, and is much more faster than any of the other enemies. As such it is completely ineffective to attempt to try and run away from him and try to avoid him. However, as with every enemy the player's spacecraft is more maneuverable than Sinistar. So it is possible to remain close to Sinistar without it resulting in your death.
Whenever a Sini-bomb is dropped from the player's ship, it will head straight for Sinistar. So in order to make the most out of your Sini-bombs you should try and stay close enough to Sinistar that your Sini-bombs can lock onto Sinistar. However the player must be careful not to be too close that Sinistar can collide with the player and destroy the player's ship. If the player's bombs are to far off from Sinistar or close to swarms of other enemies, your Sini-bombs will not impact Sinistar and a "Sini-bomb Intercepted" message will appear in the message area. It is important to note that Workers and Warriors will try to move themselves into the range of a Sini-bomb, and will sacrifice themselves if they are near Sinistar that is about to be impacted by a bomb. Also the Warriors have the ability to shoot down bombs if they are in their range, making any bomb drops from a distance completely ineffective.
Whenever a Sini-bomb makes a direct hit upon Sinistar, one section of Sinistar will be destroyed and the player will be rewarded with 500 points each. Sinistar has 13 sections (12 pieces and the face), so the player will need to gather at minimum 13 Sini-bombs in order to progress to the next zone. The face section will be the last one to be destroyed, and it alone is worth 15000 points upon its destruction.
After you have destroyed Sinistar, the player's ship will speed up and then warp to a new zone where another Sinistar is being built and the entire process is repeated. However there is variety in the various zones in Sinistar. The next zone is always harder to complete than the last. Whenever the player arrives in new zone they will need to collect an even greater number crystals in order to create Sini-bombs, and the enemies will be even faster and more difficult to deal with.
After the first, “balanced” zone, the zones will begin to repeat in a group of four “themed” zones. These zones are: Worker Zone, Warrior Zone, Planetoid Zone, and Void Zone. The Worker, Warrior, and Planetoids Zones each have a greater number of Workers, Warriors, and Planetoids, respectively. The Void Zone however has very few Planetoids and numerous enemies to contend with, and is the most difficult zone to play in.
Planetoids - 5 points
Worker - 200 points
Warrior - 500 points
Sinistar - 500 points per hit. 15000 points when destroyed.
Sinstar and its Taunts
Probably the most notable feature of Sinistar would be the actual boss, Sinistar. Being that it was one of the first games to use stereo sound and digitized voices, developers took advantage of this new technology and had Sinistar say many taunts in its search for the player. Once it is completely formed, a digitized voice says "Beware, I live". While he is trying to collide with the player's ship in order to eat it, he says further things. His seven sayings are:
- "Beware, I live!"
- "I am Sinistar!"
- "Run! Run! Run!"
- "Beware, coward!"
- "I hunger!"
- "Run, coward!"
Sinistar Unleashed the "Officially unofficial sequel to Sinistar"
On August 31, 1999 THQ released a GameFX Technology game that was titled Sinistar Unleashed which was billed as an "enhanced remake" of the original Sinistar. This came as a shock to most fans of the original Sinistar as THQ didn't exactly have the rights to make a Sinistar game, and also because what they saw didn't exactly look like Sinistar. Though the game may have shared the same name as the 1980's game it was based off of, Sinistar Unleashed was vastly different and was not seen as a legitimate sequel to the original Sinistar and as such has been forgotten by Sinistar fans.
- Like many arcade games developed during the time there are multiple easter eggs in the form of hidden messages from the games' programmers. If the player performs a high specific series of tasks in a row they can have "WILLIAMS ELECTRONICS," or the names of the programmers appear on the screen. The procedure is explained in a YouTube video.
- Because the space ship in Sinistar is more maneuverable than the Sinistar, it is possible to "run rings" around Sinistar completely avoiding death forever. A video of this can be found here.
- An Atari 2600 version of the game was started but never released. The fact that this projected even was attempted did not come into light until after prototype cartages were found. A video of what the 2600 prototype looks like can be found here.